School odds stacked against summer babies, says IFS

 
Summer skies Summer skies - but the long-term outlook at school is less favourable for children born in August

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Children born in the summer in England are at an academic disadvantage throughout school, says a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

The study says that among seven-year-olds, August-born children are more than three times as likely to be "below average" as September-born children.

August children are also 20% less likely to attend a top university.

The IFS says the economic consequences facing summer babies will last "throughout their working lives".

The report from the independent financial researchers shows the sharp difference in outcomes between the youngest children in a year group - those born in August - and the oldest, born in September.

Less confidence

Researchers say that August-born seven-year-olds are between 2.5 and 3.5 times "more likely to be regarded as below average by their teachers in reading, writing and maths".

They are also 2.5 times more likely to be unhappy at school at the age of seven and at an increased risk of being bullied.

Start Quote

This suggests that August-born children may end up doing worse than September-born children throughout their working lives”

End Quote Claire Crawford IFS report co-author

This reflects that these August children can be almost a year younger than their September-born classmates.

This achievement gap has not been closed by the time youngsters are ready to leave secondary schools - with August-born teenagers 20% more likely to be in vocational rather than academic study after school.

They are also 20% less likely to be at a leading Russell Group university compared with a September-born teenager.

These August children are likely to have lower confidence and less likely to feel they "control their own destiny".

This accident of birth can have far-reaching economic significance, says the IFS, as underachievement in qualifications at school will be likely to reduce employment opportunities in adulthood.

"This suggests that August-born children may end up doing worse than September-born children throughout their working lives, simply because of the month in which they were born," says IFS programme director Claire Crawford.

This research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is intended as a step towards finding a way of tackling the disadvantages of being the youngest in a year group.

The rules for beginning school mean that a child reaches compulsory school age at the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday.

However it is usual to start school in the September after a child's fourth birthday, which means that August babies would only just have reached the age of four when they enter the reception class.

But parents should have a choice about whether a child is full-time or part-time and there should be the option to defer entry until later in the school year.

"Parents now have the choice of a place in reception classes from the September following a child's fourth birthday, so that their child is ready to start school," said a Department for Education spokesman.

"If parents choose to defer entry, they can continue to access their entitlement to 15 hours of free early education in a setting of their choice."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 475.

    There are lots of comments on how the anecdotes posted do not disprove the findings of this study. Whilst I agree to some extent, surely we need to know the sample size of the study before we can truly determine this. If the sample is small, then these anecdotes do bring into question the validity of the study.

    It doesn't seem fair to question someone's intelligence for entering the discussion!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 474.

    Dear Quake
    Claire Crawford, co-author of this report, is not a man. And my son is 0.9 of a person since he has his toe nails cut.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 473.

    My summer born child was only just out of nappies when he started school. He'd only just learnt to walk. He wasn't disabled, just not ready. He was academically ready, already starting to write and reading simple words. You cannot rush a child physically no matter how hard you try.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 472.

    470. quake

    I recently read an article that claimed the average number of children per family is 1.9. But have you ever met a family with 1.9 children?? These statistics men insult our families with their lies.
    --
    Sorry, I can't resist this - that is the nature of an Average. If you have 10 families, 9 of them have 2 children and 1 has 1 child, the average number of children per family is 1.9.

  • Comment number 471.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 470.

    What a rubbish study! These statistics men drive me mad.

    I recently read an article that claimed the average number of children per family is 1.9. But have you ever met a family with 1.9 children?? These statistics men insult our families with their lies.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 469.

    For once i find myself in agreement with a beeb article it seems fairly common sense that a child nearly a year younger is more likely to be bullied probably being smaller in physical size and less developed.That said it isn't a universal rule and many but not all will have made up the ground by their late teens.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 468.

    I was born on the 31st August and left the education system with 10 GCSEs, 4 A levels, an AS level and a law degree. What a ridiculous waste of money this report was.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 467.

    I was born in September and I know a person in August who got less than me in a test in year 7, so that proves all people born in August are not very clever.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 466.

    359.
    doncastermike
    "Success is due to your character, not when you were born."

    umm.....the entire point of the article is that when you're born COULD influence and shape your character.
    it's the same as being the youngest or oldest child in a family. it often makes an impact (good or bad) on who you are.
    it's not an exact science, but from my experience I believe there's some truth to the report

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 465.

    This kind of statistic that is, as has been said many times, of little use in prediciting the to an individual, is very dangerous as it would encourage those who can't see it for what it is to try for babies at a specific time of year. If everyone did that the NHS would be a lot of trouble.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 464.

    @459 Robreilly

    However, as it is clear they don't really understand what the study involves - like collecting thousands of anecdotes & without bias, finding patterns - it suggests people with August birthdays really are less intelligent.
    *
    Nope, your comment suggests you don't understand either.

    That's like saying because men are average taller than women, that all men are taller than all women.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 463.

    459. Robreilly
    It does NOT show August babies are less intelligent!! It suggests that when studied as a year group August babies are towards the bottom - which is where you'd expect them to be as they are less developed. Do the study amongst adults without the label of a school year and see it it still holds true. How about giving kids a chance to be themselves and not labeling them at birth!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 462.

    @456. H_and_K

    The article is not meant to be an insult and nowhere does it say that all August born children will be under achievers. It is saying that statistically they are more likely to struggle and if you think about it, it is logical, especially at the start of primary school when they are relatively much younger than the oldest in the year.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 461.

    @459

    As someone born in August I hesitate to agree, but it seems you may be right...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 460.

    The youngest child in a year may struggle compared to their year but they are a whole year ahead of someone only slightly younger than them. Statistics like this are meaningless to the individual; find something a child enjoys and likely excells at and nurture that, stop finding ways of telling them how much better everyone else is at other things and wondering why the get disheartened.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 459.

    I would like to thank all the people for their anecdotes about being born in August and how they have been successful and how this must prove the study wrong. However, as it is clear they don't really understand what the study involves - like collecting thousands of anecdotes and, without bias, finding patterns - it suggests people with August birthdays really are less intelligent.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 458.

    Lots of August babies do exceptionally well, the report is only suggesting that this isn't the 'average' child. Research also suggests that IQ consists of up to 7 different areas of competence and that most of us are better at some than others - I'm averagely bright, logical, artistic and do ok socially, but I'm not great at sport. We should help kids find their own way and not dwell on weakness.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 457.

    @449. Wyatt

    There seem to be a lot of people on here with a misunderstanding of statistics.
    *
    Yes & on both sides!

    The issue is with empirical statements like 'Children born in the Summer are at a disadvantage' rather than 'Children born in the Summer are more likely to be at a disadvantage'.

    Using 'pigeon-holes' is just as bad as not recognising the issue.

    Better to treat kids as individuals!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 456.

    I strongly believe this incorrect. Am furious that they assume people born in August have difficulty, I was born in August, I've never had any trouble at school, was always picking up stuff alot quicker than most, and left school with 7 a-c GCSE's and 2 a-levels. I am now 20 years old, and can play 11 different instruments. am offended by this article.

 

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